Prove Yourself Ready!
“Prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.”—MATT. 24:44.
1, 2. (a) What events foretold in Bible prophecy can be compared to an attack by a tiger? (b) How does the coming attack affect you?
FOR years, a noted performer entertained audiences by interacting peacefully with his trained Bengal tigers. He said: “When an animal gives you its trust, you feel like you have been given the most beautiful gift in the world.” But on October 3, 2003, that trust ended. For no apparent reason, one of his animals, a 380-pound (172 kg) white tiger, attacked him. That attack was totally unexpected, and the trainer was not prepared.
2 It is of interest to note that the Bible foretells an attack of a “wild beast,” and we need to be ready. (Read Revelation 17:15-18.) Whom does this beast attack? In a stunning plot twist, the Devil’s world becomes divided against itself. The scarlet-colored wild beast represents the United Nations, and “the ten horns” represent all the political powers. These will turn on the harlotlike Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and violently destroy her. When will this event occur? We do not know the day and the hour. (Matt. 24:36) We do know that it will be at an hour when we do not expect it and that the time left before this attack is reduced. (Matt. 24:44; 1 Cor. 7:29) It is vital, then, that we keep ourselves spiritually ready so that when that attack occurs and Christ comes as Executioner, he will also prove to be our Deliverer! (Luke 21:28) To achieve this state of readiness, we can learn from faithful servants of God who proved themselves ready and thus became eyewitnesses of the fulfillment of God’s promises. Will we take these real-life experiences to heart?
Prove Yourself Ready—Like Noah
3. What conditions made it challenging for Noah to serve God faithfully?
3 Despite the sickening conditions that prevailed on earth during his lifetime, Noah proved himself ready to see the fulfillment of God’s promise. Imagine the challenges Noah had to face as rebel angels materialized in human form and cohabited with attractive women! These unnatural unions produced superhuman offspring, “mighty ones” who used their superior power to bully others. (Gen. 6:4) Think of the violence that was fomented as these giants caused havoc wherever they went. Consequently, wickedness prevailed and man’s thinking and behavior became thoroughly depraved. The Sovereign Lord Jehovah then issued a divine decree that marked the beginning of the end for that ungodly world.—Read Genesis 6:3, 5, 11, 12. *
4, 5. In what ways are conditions in our day similar to those of Noah’s day?
4 Jesus prophesied that the conditions in our day would be similar to those in the days of Noah. (Matt. 24:37) For example, we also witness interference by wicked spirits. (Rev. 12:7-9, 12) These demon angels materialized in the days of Noah. Although they are now barred from materializing as humans, they endeavor to control young and old alike. Behind the scenes, these sex perverts derive pleasure from the evil and debased actions of those whom they can corrupt on the earth.—Eph. 6:11, 12.
5 God’s Word describes the Devil as “a manslayer” and says that he has “the means to cause death.” (John 8:44; Heb. 2:14) His power is limited when it comes to causing death directly. Nonetheless, this vicious spirit fosters deceit and seduction. He plants murderous attitudes in the hearts and minds of people. For example, 1 out of every 142 children born in the United States will become a murder victim. With senseless violence so prevalent, do you think that Jehovah will take less notice today than he did in Noah’s day? Will he fail to act?
6, 7. How did Noah and his family demonstrate faith and godly fear?
6 In due time, Noah was informed of God’s decision to bring a deluge of waters upon the earth, bringing all flesh to ruin. (Gen. 6:13, 17) Jehovah instructed Noah to build an ark shaped like a huge chest. Noah and his family went to work. What helped them to obey and prove themselves ready when God’s judgment arrived?
7 Deep faith and godly fear moved Noah and his family to do as God commanded. (Gen. 6:22; Heb. 11:7) As family head, Noah stayed alert spiritually and avoided the corruption of that ancient world. (Gen. 6:9) He knew that his family needed to guard against adopting the violent ways and defiant attitude of the people around them. It was important that they not become engrossed in the everyday affairs of life. God had a work for them to do, and it was vital that the entire family center their lives on it.—Read Genesis 6:14, 18.
Noah and His Family Proved Ready
8. What indicates that the members of Noah’s family practiced godly devotion?
8 The Bible account focuses attention on the family head Noah, but Noah’s wife and his sons and their wives were also worshippers of Jehovah. The prophet Ezekiel confirmed this. He said that if Noah were living in Ezekiel’s time, his children would not be delivered on the basis of their father’s righteousness. They were old enough to obey or disobey. Therefore, they had personally given evidence of their love for God and his ways. (Ezek. 14:19, 20) Noah’s family accepted his instruction, shared his faith, and did not allow the influence of others to hinder their God-given work.
9. We can point to what modern-day examples of Noahlike faith?
9 How encouraging today to see within our worldwide brotherhood family heads who are doing their utmost to imitate Noah! They realize that it is not enough to provide food, clothing, shelter, and education for their families. They must also care for their spiritual needs. In doing so, they are proving themselves ready for what Jehovah will soon do.
10, 11. (a) While inside the ark, how did Noah and his family undoubtedly feel? (b) What question do we do well to ask ourselves?
10 Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives may have worked on building the ark for some 50 years. As they built the ark, they must have gone in and out of it hundreds of times. They waterproofed it, stocked it with food, and brought in the animals. Picture the scene. The big day finally arrives. It is the 17th day of the second month of the year 2370 B.C.E., and they go into the ark. Jehovah shuts the door, and it begins to rain. This is no mere local flood. The water canopy, or heavenly ocean, bursts open, and a torrential downpour pounds the ark. (Gen. 7:11, 16) People outside the ark are dying while those inside are being saved. What might Noah’s family have felt? Profound gratitude to God, yes. But undoubtedly they thought, ‘How glad we are that we walked with the true God and proved ourselves ready!’ (Gen. 6:9) Can you picture yourself on the other side of Armageddon, your heart swelling with similar appreciation?
11 Nothing can stop the Almighty from fulfilling his promise to bring an end to this satanic system of things. Ask yourself, ‘Do I have absolute confidence that none of God’s promises will fail even in the slightest detail and that all of them will be fulfilled at his appointed time?’ If so, prove yourself ready by keeping close in mind that fast-approaching “day of Jehovah.”—2 Pet. 3:12.
Moses Remained Alert
12. What could have blurred Moses’ spiritual vision?
12 Let us consider another example. From a fleshly viewpoint, Moses seemed to be in an exceedingly advantageous position in the Egyptian world. As the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, likely he was highly esteemed and enjoyed the finest of foods, the best of clothing, and the most luxurious of surroundings. He received an extensive education. (Read Acts 7:20-22.) He may have been in line to inherit a magnificent estate.
13. How did Moses remain focused on God’s promises?
13 Apparently, early training by his parents allowed Moses to discern the folly of idol worship practiced by the Egyptians. (Ex. 32:8) The educational system of Egypt and the material splendor of the royal house did not cause Moses to abandon true worship. He must have pondered deeply over God’s promises to his forefathers and had a keen desire to prove himself ready to do the divine will. After all, Moses told the sons of Israel: “Jehovah . . . the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.”—Read Exodus 3:15-17.
14. How were Moses’ faith and courage put to the test?
14 Unlike all the idols representing the lifeless gods of Egypt, Jehovah, the true God, was real to Moses. He lived his life as if he could see “the One who is invisible.” Moses had faith that God’s people would be liberated, but he did not know when that would be. (Heb. 11:24, 25, 27) His strong desire to see the Hebrews set free was manifested by his defending an Israelite slave who was being abused. (Ex. 2:11, 12) However, it was not Jehovah’s time, so Moses had to live as a fugitive in a faraway land. No doubt it was difficult for him to go from enjoying the comfortable surroundings of the Egyptian court to living in the wilderness. Still, Moses proved himself ready by keeping awake to every instruction Jehovah gave him. Thus, God could use him to bring relief to his brothers after he spent 40 years in Midian. At God’s direction, Moses obediently returned to Egypt. The time had come for Moses to carry out a divine commission and to do God’s work in God’s way. (Ex. 3:2, 7, 8, 10) Back in Egypt, Moses, ‘the meekest of all men,’ needed faith and courage to appear before Pharaoh. (Num. 12:3) He did so, not just once, but time and again as the plagues proceeded, not knowing from one plague to the next how many more times he would need to go before Pharaoh.
15. Despite setbacks, what moved Moses to remain watchful for opportunities to honor his heavenly Father?
15 Over the next 40 years, from 1513 B.C.E. to 1473 B.C.E., Moses faced disappointments. Yet, he watched for opportunities to honor Jehovah and wholeheartedly encouraged his fellow Israelites to do so. (Deut. 31:1-8) Why? Because he loved Jehovah’s name and sovereignty more than his own name. (Ex. 32:10-13; Num. 14:11-16) Despite disappointments or setbacks, we too must continue to support God’s rulership, confident that his way of doing things is wiser, more righteous, and better than any other. (Isa. 55:8-11; Jer. 10:23) Is that how you feel?
16, 17. Why does Mark 13:35-37 have profound meaning for you?
16 “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is.” (Mark 13:33) Jesus gave that warning when discussing the sign that would mark the conclusion of this wicked system of things. Consider the concluding words to Jesus’ great prophecy as recorded by Mark: “Keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at cockcrowing or early in the morning; in order that when he arrives suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.”—Mark 13:35-37.
17 Jesus’ exhortation is thought-provoking. He referred to four different watches of the night. The final watch would prove to be a challenging time to stay awake, for it lasted from about three in the morning until sunrise. War strategists consider this to be the most effective time to attack the enemy, affording the best opportunity to catch them “sleeping.” Likewise now, when in a spiritual sense the world is sound asleep, we might have our greatest struggle to stay awake. Do we have any doubt that we need to “keep awake” and “keep looking” for the foretold end and our deliverance?
18. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, what inestimable privilege do we have?
18 The animal trainer mentioned at the outset survived the attack by the Bengal tiger. But Bible prophecy unmistakably indicates that neither false religion nor the rest of this wicked system will escape the approaching end. (Rev. 18:4-8) May all of God’s servants, young and old, see the seriousness of doing all they can to prove ourselves ready for Jehovah’s day as did Noah and his family. We live in a God-dishonoring world in which teachers of false religion, as well as agnostics and atheists, mock the Creator with their speech. But we cannot risk being affected. Let us take to heart the examples that we have considered and stay watchful for opportunities to defend and honor Jehovah as “the God of gods,” yes, “the God great, mighty and fear-inspiring.”—Deut. 10:17.
Do You Recall?
• Why did Noah need to give priority to his family’s spiritual needs?
• How are our times remarkably similar to Noah’s day?
• Despite disappointments, why did Moses keep his eyes focused on Jehovah’s promises?
• What Bible prophecies move you to stay awake spiritually?
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Noah and his family kept focused on Jehovah’s work
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God’s sure promises helped Moses to remain watchful